DEAR JERRY: Following the recent discussion in your column about “one-hit wonders,” years ago I read in a Boston paper that of all the one-hit wonders in Pop history only eight had their one hit reach No. 1.
The only one I can remember is “Mr. Sandman” by the Chordettes. My friends and I have had some terrific arguments about the others. Gogi Grant's “The Wayward Wind” maybe? A bottle of wine or two hinge on the outcome. Please help.
Also, how long does a person with a single hit have to wait before being officially declared a one-hitter?
Larry Casey, Huntsville, Al
DEAR LARRY: So which is it: one bottle or two?
You don't specify a time frame, so let's list chronologically the one-hit wonders with No. 1 pop hits for the '50s and '60s.
There's the issue of which definition of one-hit wonder is being used. You'll recall when we covered this topic earlier this month, I explained that, for me, a one-hit wonder is someone who had no other chart hits, which is the criteria here.
During this period, nine artists achieved the seemingly impossible to have a No. 1 hit on the Billboard charts and yet never again place any record on the charts.
They are: Anton Karas (“The Third Man Theme,” 1950); Johnny Standley (“It's in the Book,” 1952); Joan Weber (“Let Me Go, Lover,” 1955); the Silhouettes (“Get a Job,” 1958); Elegants “Little Star,” 1958); Laurie London (“He's Got the Whole World in His Hands,” 1958); the Hollywood Argyles (“Alley-Oop”); the Singing Nun (“Dominique,” 1963); and Zager & Evans (“In the Year 2525,” 1969).
Regarding Zager & Evans, it is even more amazing that “In the Year 2525” wound up as the No. 1 song of that entire year. They did have several subsequent singles but couldn't follow up with a hit of any kind.
Two of our '60s acts the Singing Nun and Zager & Evans had one release on Billboard's Bubbling Under chart, a weekly listing of the 15 to 30 records just below the Top 100. Of course both flopped and faded away.
As for the Chordettes, they had plenty of other hits. You might recall their Top 5 tune, “Born to Be with You” (1956), as well as “Lollipop” (1958) which reached No. 2.
Gogi Grant also had other successes, especially “Suddenly There's a Valley,” a Top 10er from 1955.
The answer to your last question may be irrelevant when it comes to '50s and '60s acts. Chances are good that none of the above mentioned acts will return to the charts ever. In general, however, someone with one hit in the late '90s would probably not be thought of as a one-hit wonder for at least five years after their chart appearance.
DEAR JERRY: In an episode earlier this month of “Ally McBeal,” an actress (the church choir singer who had an affair with the pastor) sang a song at the end of the show. From the lyrics, I extracted what I thought might be the title. I believe it's “Shake the Hand of a Brand New Fool." Unfortunately, our local music store couldn't find out anything about it. Can you?
DEAR NETMASTER: Absolutely, since I too am a fan of “Ally McBeal” and its wacky assortment of characters. Amidst the drama and buffoonery they sprinkle in the best music on television, mostly performed by cast regular Vonda Sheppard.
This particular tune is titled “Fools Fall in Love.” It has been a hit of sorts four times: by the Drifters in 1957; Sammy Turner in 1960; Elvis Presley in 1967; and Jacky Ward in 1977.
IZ ZAT SO? Other than “Fools Fall in Love,” I can think of no other recording with four different releases that alternated tempo-wise.
The Drifters' original version is fast, Sammy Turner's is slow, Presley's is fast and Ward's is slow. Whoever has the next hit with it will need to make it swing.